Dear creative alumni of the future: I wish I was you (Part 2 of 3)
A few weeks ago I spoke at my university to a fresh crop of creatives on the brink of beginning their careers. It can feel like a tenuous move to enter the creative industries, but it has always felt like this for creatives. Today, creative content has more spaces to fill than ever and there are a litany of reasons why that mean the future is looking bright for the alumni of the future. This is part two of three of a series, here's part 1 if you missed it.
BRANDS ARE CONSCIOUS
We’ve all had the experience of feeling a brand has done something ethically or morally wrong and been put off buying their product or service. It’s believed that this upcoming generation will be the most socially engaged and this makes companies hyper-aware of their practices. It’s harder for brands to opt out of social and political conversations because brands have an impact on the world, intentional or not.
PR in an age of social media and a 24-hour news cycle is a different beast to a decade ago. Some have leaned in by seizing on social issues, as Airbnb has done with anything that has challenged equality in any shape or form. Other companies are built on conscious capitalism or social enterprise, like Thankyou or Oscar Wylee.
Brands have to be prepared to participate in wider conversations which means they need to flex more creative muscle to say the right thing, at the right time, in the right way. That’s a good thing for anyone about to leap into creative industries. These are new creative challenges, and young grads can bring a critical, socially-engaged perspective to the table.
EMPLOYERS AS BRANDS / BRANDS AS EMPLOYERS
Your workplace is likely to be the most significant organised community in your daily life lives, and plenty of people won’t tolerate staying in an unsupportive or unethical community day in and day out.
By the time creative students are in the prime of their careers they’ll expect that the places they work for have some sense of purpose behind them. This doesn’t mean you have to save lives, but it means more than just selling and buying stuff.
Companies know that their brand is a recruitment tool. They need a brand that attracts people, as well as customers. And they know that they need to keep delivering on these promises; they must bring purpose and positivity to work because their talent can’t be loyal to an empty cause.
As a content agency we’re seeing a rise in the emphasis on internal communications for larger organisations, because meaningful messages at scale across channels isn’t something that all companies specialise in, they also have the potential force of an army of brand advocates closer than they thought.
We’re becoming so accustomed to high quality creativity in our everyday life, that it’s becoming a part of how companies communicate to their workforce. Finding incredible ways to express the mundane is what any creative should be able to do, and the demand for this is unlikely to diminish.
BRANDS AS PUBLISHERS
Advertising has been the traditional place that young grads go to start creative careers. But it’s an industry that’s struggling to keep young talent, because there are better opportunities to be found at brands themselves.
Today a brand is a publisher. They have videos, tweets and articles to take care of. There are plenty of creative spaces to be filled that aren’t a TVC.
Brands also shouldn’t just talk about their products unless perhaps they’re at the luxury-end of their market. Today content is about the broader lifestyle and beliefs of your audience. A prime example is Red Bull who post more photos of extreme sports and feats than they do about their drink. Nike is a similar too: while their videos always feature their product, their content is about being your best possible self. Every single piece of content they produce celebrates human perseverance and it takes creative thinking to iterate so wildly and successfully on a single core message.
At the same time, plenty of all corporates, startups, and even some FMCGs don’t require a constant cycle of creative output. But sometimes they do. This is where smaller niche agencies step in to help brands publish. Big agencies can’t help you turn around a single social media post by tomorrow, but there are a hell of a lot of little guys who can.
The emergence of brands as publishers is something that is taking away young creatives from bigger agencies. If brands have enough clout and enough allure, they’re just as desirable and cool to work for as a big traditional agency used to be, which means plenty more varied options for graduate roles.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. The final post offers a few more observations about why the future's bright for creative graduates-to-be.